Shortly after I became Suddenly Single the house that I had known and loved turned against me.
A basement that had always been as dry as the Gobi began to roil and flood; plumbing disintegrated and turned my ceilings to paper; appliances – all of them – made a suicide pact behind my back and a once glorious Victorian pond now featured bloated fish bobbing gruesomely amongst the lilies.
It was therefore not surprising in the least to come home late one night, flip on the light switch and notice that hanging upside down on the corner of one of my picture frames was a bat. We were close enough to be eye to eye. His wings were leathery yet fluffy and folded around him like the spokes of an umbrella.
I screamed a loud Psycho-scream as his eyes slid towards me, cartoon-style, but then I noticed that his tiny brown body was ticking with its own frightened pulse. For some time (okay, a really long time) we regarded one another in this way.
I had no idea what to do. Since it was well after midnight I did not want to call anyone – and a google search only produced unhelpful advice about guano removal or gentle persuasion that seemed to involve a tennis racquet. (There were also some wonderfully graphic images of human rabies for which I thank you, Wikipedia).
Finally, I opened the door that led outside where it smelled cool and sweet after a heavy rain. Heart pounding in my ears, I unhooked the entire frame from the wall and with excruciatingly slow, mincing steps and searing biceps, inched along the wall to the door. The little bat hung on, bobbing slightly, moving his head from side to side, watching me closely. Once outside, he disconnected himself with impressive speed but instead of flying away he began to creep rapidly up the side of the house, hand over hand like a tiny gargoyle.
For some reason, this frightened me so much that I thought I would lose consciousness.
Back inside and badly shaken, I poured myself a bourbon and returned to google: this time I wanted to know if having a bat in the house was symbolic.
I know it seems New Agey weird, but trust me – I have learned to trust my intuition now, especially when it’s bawling at me.
The answers were profound.
Bats represent re-birth and more importantly the need to let go of an old era that no long exists.
I sat there, incredulous, absolutely knowing that something significant had happened and feeling strangely grateful.
(And proud! The bat was out, he was unharmed and I had done it all myself!)